Illustration of a dark haired woman in singlet with head on knee beside a book

Tip 15: Accept that nothing is perfect

Bikram Choudhury (love him or loathe him) is the world’s most infamous yoga instructor who built a wildly successful business based on just 26 yoga postures. So what can Bikram yoga teach us about writing a book?

‘The actual writing is easier that you think. It’s dealing with the emotional stuff around the writing that’s tough. ~ Catherine Deveny

There is a saying in Bikram: ‘the more you struggle, the harder it gets’.

When you’re struggling to perfect the pose or paragraph, it becomes harder to do the pose or write the paragraph.

Perfectionism is a killer.  It murders your productivity and strangles your creative flow.

In a hot room – no, in life – the only way around this is to accept what you’re struggling against.

As a writer, you’ve got to let perfectionism go.

You’ve got to accept that nothing is perfect.

One of my clients, author and speaker, Patrick Hollingworth summed this up best as he reflected on his process for writing The Light and Fast Organisation:

Rather than believing that the book was the only one I’d ever write, I decided it would be the first of who knows how many more, and so I became less focused on making it absolutely perfect, and more focused on just enjoying the journey while it lasted and getting it done.
I knew that I could spend all the time in the world making the book absolutely perfect, but the world would have moved on by the time I’d finished if I took that approach.

Sure, we all struggle with the self-talk as we’re writing:

  • What if no one reads it?
  • What if they don’t like it?
  • What if this doesn’t make sense?
  • What if it’s crap?

I know, because I struggle too (like when I wrote this post).

But when you’re all hot and bothered, agonising over the way to say what you want to say, all you really have to do is let go.

Let go of any preconceived ideas of what your book ‘should’ be.

Let go of what you want to say or sound like.

Let go and just write.

As Catherine Deveny puts it in her book Use your Words you need to:

‘Become a completionist, not a perfectionist’.

So be a completionist, not a perfectionist when you’re doing a Bikram class.

Be a completionist, not a perfectionist when you’re writing your book.

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Kelly Irving

I’m an editor and writing coach with a love for deep-diving into brains and businesses. Through my one-to-one work and online program, I provide an action-by-action process that speeds up the time it takes to produce your best book, and turns overwhelm and self-doubt into momentum and excitement for writing.


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